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Architect gives rundown on courthouse work

An initial review of work needed on the downtown courthouse exterior could lead to an expanded assessment that includes renovations on the second floor.
Ongoing discussions regarding the courthouse improvements are now being led by Commissioner Phyllis Corso, who was elected chair of the County-Owned Property Committee during the Sept. 12 meeting.
Commissioner Mark Ferguson was chosen as vice chair. Other members for 2013-14 are Commissioners Doyle Cloyd, Alpha Bridger and Joe Sheffield.
“(Corso) is a fairly new commissioner, and I hope she will restore some credibility to this committee,” Bridger said.
During last week’s meeting, architect Hiram Rash presented an analysis and general budget proposal regarding exterior improvements to the Washington County courthouse.
Despite already hiring and paying architect Fred Ward to handle the job, County-Owned Property Committee members asked Rash last month to review the progress and provide recommendations.
Rash, one of the owners of GoinsRashCain, Inc. Construction Services and its affiliate company CainRashWest Architects, both located in Kingsport, outlined a proposed strategy not to exceed $6,000.
The process will include two preliminary tests for lead-based paint, a visual inspection of the courthouse, and a recommendation for pigeon deterrents.
Rash told commissioners he was in Jonesborough the day before the meeting with an environmentalist to conduct the paint tests, and the results offered good news.
“We did two tests for lead-based paint and it was clear,” he said, adding the tests were done by a friend at no cost.
The largest expense will be the visual inspection of the wood trim, molding and guttering to look for decay, rot or other superficial damage.
“I’m going to bring in a team of people and a superintendent, but we will have to rent a crane,” he said. The inspection could be completed in one day if the weather cooperates.
In an effort to deter the pigeon population at the courthouse, Rash has located a system that emits predatory bird calls that frighten pigeons. Multiple speakers would be installed on the clock tower, and the service has an effective radius of more than 1 mile.
Rash has secured a company that will allow the county to return the product if it doesn’t do the job.
Rash said the full assessment would take approximately 30 days to finish.
“We will do a budget for each separate section, working from the top down, and you can choose what you want to spend,” Rash said. “We will give you the information and the estimates, and let (the purchasing director) put it out for bid.”
Ferguson made a motion, which passed unanimously, to recommend Rash’s proposal to the full commission.
Ferguson said it did not need to go through the Budget Committee since the funds for the project were approved in the list of capital projects.
“I think this is a very small fee to know what we need to do,” he noted.
Committee members were so pleased with Rash’s assessment, they asked him to provide input on the interior renovations as well.
“There seems to be no plan of action, and I would recommend (hiring) Rash to do an assessment to determine where you are,” Zoning Administrator Mike Rutherford said. “The main problem I see is there’s no management, and you need that on any project.”
County-Owned Property Committee members have placed the renovations on-hold while they consider the costs and direction of the project.
“You need to break these in two,” Rutherford said. “It’s no longer the courthouse renovation. It’s the exterior renovation and the interior renovation.”
Rash said he would be willing to complete a walk-through and give his ideas.
“I’ll give you my best take, and it won’t cost you anything,” he said.
Corso said she thought bringing in Rash is an excellent idea.
“We don’t know anything because we’re not being given information, and if the mayor won’t come to the meetings to answer questions, we’re going to have to move on,” she said.
Committee members authorized Rash to contact the state fire marshal on the county’s behalf for questions or information.
“The way I start a project is I come to see (Rutherford) first, then if we need to go to the state, we can,” Rash said. “It’s not really greasing the skids, but it works better for everyone.”
Rutherford recommended calling another meeting of the committee to learn the status of fire alarms in the courthouse. That meeting was scheduled to take place on Sept. 16.